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Samantha Fox The Wife Swapping Experience

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You started doing page 3 at the age of 16. Do you look back on those years fondly?

Oh yes, most definitely. No regrets, they were great times, and I really enjoyed myself.

What was it like to be the nation’s pin-up?
I think I just felt on top of the world at that time. One minute I was at school, and then I was discovered when one of my pictures was sent in to The Sunday People. So that was how I was discovered, and I was given a contract for four years to be The Sun’s girl. They’d never signed anyone exclusively before, so straight away I knew I was special. I knew that I’d be busy for the next four years of my life, I knew it wouldn’t be just one or two topless pictures that I’d do and that would never lead to anything. Four years! I just wanted to be the biggest and the best Page 3 girl, to make a name for myself. And then I started getting into TV and stuff. It became more than just a modelling career – I became a celebrity. It was amazing. Before I came along the girls were just pictures in the paper, they didn’t have followings, you didn’t know what they were like as people. I was really proud of myself. It was like being a pop star.

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Which, funnily enough, you then became. Was that what you’d always wanted to do?
Oh yeah! At the age of five I started going to the Anna Scher Theatre School, where Spandau Ballet went, and Phil Daniels, in Islington. So from a very young age I was singing on stage, and acting. And before I was a Page 3 girl I was in a band called SFX. We released a couple of tracks. One got into the top 40. We did a lot of gigs. It wasn’t massive, but it was a good beginning for me. And when my four years at The Sun was over, I knew I wanted to get back into music, and I was looking for songs, and then suddenly Touch Me was sent to me, and I thought ‘This is the song!’ They were looking for a British version of Madonna at the time. She’d just had a big hit with Like a Virgin. So I went to the audition and sang it. There were a couple of thousand girls there going for it, and they signed me that day for five years and five albums. So my life went from great success from modelling to a five album deal, which I was over the moon about.

 

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How many albums have you sold?
I’ve sold 30 million albums now.

Which countries have you had the most success in?
My biggest record sales have been in America and Canada. Scandinavia is a very big market for me. Germany, France, and Asia as well – Japan, India and Malaysia.

You still tour, don’t you?
Yeah, I still work in those countries a lot. Most weekends I’m performing somewhere in the world.

You had quite an interesting trip to Norway last year, didn’t you?
Yeah! Last Easter we were doing a show in Norway, and there was a town in the midst of this amazing glacier. The only way you could get to the town was by helicopter, but everyone said the view was beautiful. And the next day, we had to go and do a show in Barcelona, so we woke up in the morning after the show, and there was a snowstorm like you wouldn’t believe. The snow stopped and we took off, and suddenly it started again, and we were flying blind. We just knew that on either side there were two massive mountains, so one false move would’ve been it. Eventually we followed a river for a while – and landed in a field. We couldn’t see a thing.

What happened next?
We ended up being rescued by this family of farmers. They were so nice to us, and brought us into their house. They gave us pancakes and coffee, and we warmed up. I wanted to go and see the animals, and while we were there, they told me one of the lambs was pregnant, and ready any day. We go back in and have another pancake and a coffee, and she gave birth. We saw it all, and they (the farmers) named the lamb, which was male, Sam. And they’re keeping Sam, they’re not going to cook him. They sent me a picture of him all grown up. He’s frolicking around, as we speak, in Norway.

 

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You also had quite an interesting time on Wife Swap. What made you want to do the show?
Myra and I have always really liked the show. We’ve always watched it, we think it’s great. It’s one of those programmes people talk about for weeks after – especially when a celebrity is involved. And we thought it would be nice to learn something from the show. Myra and I had talked about children in the past, and Myra has always said ‘Sam, you don’t realise how hard it is, and with your career as well’. I’d have to semi-retire to have a baby. So when we spoke to researchers, we told them it would be really nice to swap with a family who had children. It would be fun, and you’d come out of it having learned something. I’d never looked after a baby in my life, and I really wanted to know what it would be like.

You must have been thrilled when you discovered you’d be in a house with children in it.
When I first walked into the house, I saw a little Wendy house, and I saw a little pram, so I knew there’d be children, and that made me happy. And then I saw the photograph of Freddie, and I thought ‘Oh my God!’

Did you know right from that moment that it was going to be tough?
Yeah, I knew it would be hard, most definitely. I was in shock a bit when I saw his picture. He’s got quite a reputation, Freddie Starr, so it took me a while to get used to the idea. Part of me thought ‘Oh God, do I go now? Do I really want this for a week?’ But then I thought about the kids, and I thought ‘No, I’m going to have fun here.’ I thought ‘I can handle him’. I’ve handled worse in my life, you know?

What was it like, in reality? How was living with him?
It was very difficult. It was a very difficult week, I must say. If it wasn’t for looking after the baby, which is a full-time job, it would’ve been awful. I tell you, all my praise goes to all those mums out there. It’s not easy. I was getting up at 4 or 5am most mornings, looking after the baby, taking care of the household chores. If it wasn’t for all of that stuff to do, though, it would’ve been awful. Or even more awful, I should say.

He sees men and women as having very defined roles, doesn’t he?
I didn’t have to do much with Freddie for the first three or four days, because I was Donna. But when the roles reversed, when I introduced changes for him to become more involved in the household and with the baby, and do things with the children, when it came to that part, he didn’t want to comply at all. So I just carried on being Donna for the whole week, really.

 

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You got on with the kids really well, didn’t you?
Yeah, I really did. I love kids. My sister’s got three, and I know that I love kids. I’m quite childish myself in a lot of ways, so I was really keen for the swap to have kids. Especially a baby. My sister would never leave me with her newborn baby. I don’t think I’d leave my baby with someone who’d never looked after a baby. So I did feel very nervous about the responsibility I had.

Did it confirm for you that you want kids?
I’ve always had a maternal instinct, and this didn’t change anything about that. It’s something I’ve always thought about, babies, and that I’d always want a baby. It’s something Myra and I have spoken about, but as for when, and how, and if, is something really personal to us. But I know I’d make a good mummy, put it that way.

What was at the root of you and Freddie not getting along?
I thing he didn’t like the fact that I’m strong. I can answer for myself. I guess the producers thought ‘Sam can handle herself. She’s a strong character. Freddie’s difficult. It’s going to make good TV.’ But looking back at it, I really kept my cool. I actually came out of it thinking ‘I’ve actually grown up now, and become a mature woman who can just let things go over my head without having to raise my voice, shout or lower myself to that level.’ Maybe ten years ago I might have punched him in the nose.

Myra and Donna got on very well, didn’t they?
Yeah, they really got on well. And Donna’s a really nice woman. I met her and I really liked her. She came across as strong and astute. Myra was quite surprised when she met Freddie that they were together.

What was the low point of the whole experience for you?
I think the worst part for me was when the role changes happened, and I was reading out of Donna’s manual, and he was having a go at me as if I’d written it myself. He was pretty nasty during that. I was just trying to get on with the game. And that’s what it is at the end of the day – a game. But he wouldn’t take part. He wouldn’t even help cook dinner, having said he would. That’s when I wanted to go home. He’s so condescending and argumentative. It was really frustrating. I thought ‘I don’t need this, I’ve done my bit, I’ve been Donna for the last few days, now it’s your turn to do your bit’. And he wasn’t doing his bit.

 

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What were the best moments?
The best moments were being alone with the baby in the mornings, before he got up. She’d wake up very early. It was really weird being on my own for the first time with a little baby. You can’t have a conversation; you have to keep them occupied. But I had so much fun it was amazing. Babies are so intuitive and clever. But it made me sad when I’d go in to get her out of her cot and she was going ‘Mummy, mummy,’ and really crying. And I was thinking ‘I’m not her mummy’. Imagine how she must have felt. But I was as good a mummy as I could be, and gave her lots of cuddles and kisses.

So what do you think you and Myra have learned from the Wife Swap experience?
How much we really missed each other. How much we really love each other. And we both realised what a loving home we’ve created together. Our home has a lovely glow about it. You walk in and it’s just got that feeling of love. And people who don’t have that in their relationship need to work at it, and learn. There are a lot of men still living in the 70s out there. Hopefully they’ll learn from watching Freddie.

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